I came across The Scar Project over at The Hairpin. It’s a collection of photos of young breast cancer survivors shot by fashion photographer David Jay. They’re pretty confronting to look at. It’s a devastating issue.
The mission statement talks a lot about empowerment of women and I’m interested in how this relates to their nakedness. Most of the women are topless and uncovered in their photos but there is little that is sexualised about them.
At one level, I feel annoyed that these women are not depicted in a sexualised way. As if, somehow, because of their disfigured breasts, they’re not feminine enough to be considered sexy. But of course, that’s just giving in to a culture that equates femininity with sexualisation. Nakedness and femininity can actually exist and complement each other without objectifying women. That’s the aim here: to celebrate these women and their femininity.
We could ask why their nakedness is important for empowerment. I think that operates on two levels. First, it says they don’t have anything to hide. Their scars do not need to be hidden away. Second, there is something deeply humanising to have both the women’s faces and their scarred breasts in the pictures. Not only are their scars not something to hide but they are part of them. ‘Breast cancer survivor’ is not all each woman is are but the boldness with which many of the women face the camera captures a willingness to be at peace with that experience. It takes tremendous strength to fight breast cancer and substantial courage to survive its aftermath.
I love the tagline: “Breast cancer is not a pink ribbon.” Definitely worth a look.
Tamie Davis is an Aussie living in Tanzania, writing at meetjesusatuni.com.